Board of Directors & Advisory Board

Andria+A.+Pic.jpg

Andria Allen
President

I grew up on a 90-acre farm in a single parent home in South Dakota. This upbringing instilled the drive and determination that has fueled my personal and professional success. From an early age, I learned that to achieve more in life, you need to aim high, focus and work hard and with determination.

I developed a passion for horses early in life and still have it, much to my husband's dismay.  I am still competing in dressage. 

My husband and I are also avid  hikers and mountain bikers. There is no shortage of fantastic places for both in the Boulder area.

Izzy Pic w:Cigar.JPG

Izzy Abbass

Advisory Board

Izzy Abbass is an Army Desert Storm Veteran and an advisory board member for Operation Equine. He currently serves as the National Director – Military and Veteran Relations for Novation Enterprises following a career of over two decades in the telecommunications industry focusing on digital strategies and implementations. Mr. Abbass spent 13 years in the cable and broadcast television sector, where he launched eight television channels in Central Europe, Australia and Asia. In 2004 he became the North American Managing Director for Unity Mobile, an early provider of video services to mobile devices. He has been heavily engaged on veteran transition into higher education and employment at the national level as a Veteran advocate and he served as Commander of Post 1 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the oldest VFW Post in the nation. In 2011 he created the concept and was responsible for launching the text help line for the VA Crisis Center to reduce suicides for which he was named Colorado Veteran of the Year in 2012 by the United Veterans Committee of Colorado. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Fisher House Foundation.

Nicoletti Logo.jpeg

Dr. Debra Tasci
Advisory Board

Dr. Debra Tasci has over 35 years of clinical practice helping individuals, couples and families. She has extensive experience in trauma debriefing with airline personnel, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical workers, and victims of crime. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She is a certified Employee Assistance Professional, a member of the American Psychological Association, the Colorado Psychological Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Additionally, she is a Substance Abuse Professional, with expertise in the area of chemical dependency, and she conducts substance abuse evaluations for the Department of Transportation for individuals holding safety sensitive jobs. She has completed training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) designed to help couples in distress, is a certified EMDR therapist, and is the co-author of the Trauma Recovery Handbook. She has worked at Nicoletti-Flater Associates since 1996, conducting individual, couples, and family counseling, fitness for duty assessments, trauma debriefing/defusing, substance abuse assessments, and psychological assessments for job applicants seeking employment in Antarctica. She has also been a consultant to the Denver Police Peer Support Team since 1996 and is Board Certified in Police and Public Safety Psychology. Most recently, Dr. Tasci has attained a Level II Status in Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy.

Deb w.Honcho2.JPG

Debra Plant
Advisory Board

Debra is the founder of Mount Moriah Stables, a PATH International Certified Equine Specialist with an Instructor Certification in PATH Equine Service for Heroes and a Centered Riding Instructor. Additionally, she is a member of the Equine Experiential Education Association and is Military Mental Health First Aid Certified.

Tonia Photo.jpeg

Tonia Lowe
Secretary

I hold a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in religious studies from Regis University.  I completed my field experience at Peak to Peak Counseling in Nederland, CO, where I gained a great deal of knowledge and experience with a wide variety of clients. I am an animal lover, have completed training in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and am working toward certification as an animal-assisted therapist.

I currently serve with the Broomfield Police Department, and have served as a volunteer victim advocate for North Metro Fire and Rescue for over 7 years. My studies have included specific emphasis in the area of crisis and trauma counseling; I also have continuing education related to military, veteran, and emergency first responder cultural competence.

Vatsala K Pathy Headshot.JPG

Vatsala Kapur Pathy
Advisory Board

Vatsala Kapur Pathy brings over two decades of experience in health policy and public health. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Rootstock Solutions LLC, a healthcare consulting firm and has federal and state clients including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she was a Senior Advisor to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She also served as the Colorado State Innovation Model Director in the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, a statewide delivery system and payment reform initiative focused on the integration of behavioral health and primary care. She was also a senior program officer at The Colorado Health Foundation, where she was responsible for grant making and initiative development to support healthcare delivery for low-income populations. Vatsala was also a program officer at the CDC Foundation, where she served as a steward and manager of a number of national and international public health projects. She has extensive experience on state health policy research and program implementation with the Office of Colorado Governor Roy Romer, the Georgia Health Policy Center and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado. Vatsala is a recipient of The Livesay Award for Social Change from The Colorado College and The American Marshall Memorial Fellowship. She was also selected to participate in the University of Colorado’s Denver Community Leadership Forum. She is presently a trustee and chair of the compensation committee at St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Vice Chair at World Denver and a board member of the Children's Museum of Denver and the Bell Policy Center. Previously, she has also served as an Operating Board member of Bonfils Blood Center. Vatsala received a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a Master of Arts degree from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She graduated cum laude with distinction with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history with a Latin America concentration and a minor in North American Studies from The Colorado College. She also has a Certificate in Mediation from the University of Denver.

Honcho & Smoke playing.jpeg

Dr. Lane Volpe
Advisory Board

Dr. Lane Volpe is an anthropologist with expertise in the field of research translation, program development, implementation and evaluation. She has a depth of experience gathering the narratives of clients, staff, funders, and policy makers to inform a more functional approach to the design and delivery of therapeutic programs.

Lane has experience working with government agencies, non-profits, and universities on planning and implementation across diverse service sectors, including early childhood, education, criminal justice, and human services. She has previously been involved in developing an equine therapy program for first responders, and has volunteered for equine-assisted therapy programs in Colorado. Her focus in this field of work is to acknowledge and appreciate the connection between human and animal wellbeing, and to ensure that animal-assisted therapy programs do not try to benefit people at the expense of other parts of life. She is devoted to opportunities where animals and people can support and assist each other.

John Photo.jpg

John Stilwell

Treasurer

30 years, providing guidance to organizations in Chief of Staff, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer roles, and has helped to start and scale numerous non-profits and serve on their boards.

He worked in an executive role at a New York City based international NGO offering medical and development aid to communities affected by poverty and unequal access to healthcare, and currently serves in a Chief Financial and Operating Officer role for a Denver based non-profit. Prior to full-time engagement in the non-profit sector, John was with a Wall Street hedge fund for 20 years, and his background and experience includes developing and implementing financial and operational systems across the organization, including human resources, information technology, operations, and finance.

John lives in Denver with his wife and two children, and enjoys the abundant outdoor activities available in the Rockies.

Steve Sisson.jpeg

Steve Sisson
Advisory Board

Steve Sisson is a Retired Longmont Police Officer. He served as a Scout for a Marine Rifle Company in Vietnam 1968-1969. He also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2008 as an International Police Advisor in Baghdad, Iraq. He is married to Amy Sisson for approximately 20 years. He was introduced to Operation Equine in 2017 and has benefited from the programs of this powerful method of counseling.

Brad G w.Horse.jpg

Maj. Brad Gallup, (Ret.)
Advisory Board

My life is about being of service and helping people heal. My passion as a Transformative Coach is guiding folks to look in a new direction that transforms their lives. Often I bring horses into the conversation, which accelerates deep insight, utilizing my training as an Equine Guided Educator.

I served my country for 21 years, both as an enlisted Marine and as an Air Force Officer, retiring with the rank of Major.

My healing journey started 25 years ago after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; in severe emotional pain, I wanted to end my life. Through processing my own grief, I discovered I have the capacity to be supportive, empathetic, and present for others who were suffering over life losses.

The discovery of this new capacity led me to become a certified Grief Facilitator with the non-profit Tragedy Assistance for Survivors (TAPS) and have worked with TAPS for 20 years, counseling military children who had lost loved ones. I am also on staff with the Men’s Leadership Alliance, where we guide men to discover their soul’s work and deepen their connections with their spouses, children and communities. Additionally, I am honored to be a co-founder of the Warrior Storyfield in Longmont Colorado, bringing veterans and civilians together to explore the warriors journey home through a communal art project.

Dani on Horseback.jpg

Dani Hamilton
Advisory Board

Ensign Hamilton is currently in the final year of her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Denver. A Navy brat, Dani specialized in both military and health psychology and commissioned into the Navy in 2016. She received her BS in Criminal Justice & Psychology at Sam Houston State University in 2008, her MS in Criminal Justice & Forensic Psychology from the University of New Haven in 2010, and her MS in General & Neuropsychology from Drexel in 2012. She then procured funding to create and implement the second Veterans Treatment Court in Colorado and worked as the court coordinator for the 18th Judicial District. Dani also works for Senator Michael Bennet's veterans working group and facilitates therapy with military, veterans, and their families at the Sturm Center as well as equine therapy with Operation Equine. This year, she is working at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and STRIDE Community Health Center while completing her doc paper on how equine-assisted therapy affects post traumatic growth in combat veterans.